One of my Super Gardener friends (Mikkel Moller) mentioned he planned to use diapers in his garden this year. The sodium polyacrylate crystals used in disposable diapers hold up
to 30 times their weight in water. Here in Panama where it doesn’t rain AT ALL for almost six months of the year, that sounds like a godsend for the garden.
So I whipped out to the store to see what I could find. I was positive I could make a killing at my local Todo a Dollar, but they were out. So I hit one of the mini-marts and found a package of three extra-large, complete with Disney characters, for $1.15, or about $0.38 each. I was a bit skeptical about the cost-effectiveness of this project, considering Disney’s residuals, but I bought one package to try.
I opened one of the diapers and scraped out everything that wasn’t obviously waterproof plastic into a bowl. Not being especially scientific, I forgot to measure it, but I’d say I got a couple of good tablespoons of dry material. I was surprised it was so little. Then I added what I thought was a reasonable amount of water.
I had to add more water. And more again. And yet again.
When I was finished, I had eight cups of expanded gel. I measured that.
I’m gardening mostly in buckets, as well as a couple of raised beds. This is definitely going to help with the water situation, so I went back and bought six more packages (18 diapers). I’ll need a few more, but I’m going to look for off-brands and see how well they work.